Bringing in the biggest names and largest crowds, Lollapalooza has yet again lived up to its reputation and still reigns as undoubtedly the biggest metro festival of the year.
Located in Grant Park in the center of Chicago with star headliners including Tyler the Creator, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Vampire Weekend and St. Vincent
The headliners were pretty solid, but there are some underdogs that truly deserve to be recognized: ChvrchesLauren Mayberry’s vocals gave me goosebumps and all the feels. Their set was phenomenal and they even brought out Matt Berninger of The National to sing a duet. Dillon Francis surprised the crowd and opened with a full, eight piece mariachi band. MELVV who played BMI, a side stage, kept us dancing, mixing everything from Porter Robinson to Walker & Royce.
Lollapalooza has a history of being a “rock” festival, but as Bob Dylan once said, the times they are a changin’. I’ll admit, I was a little shocked when I left Dillon Francis to catch the end of The National and the crowd at Bud Light stage was only 1,000 people. I was even more disappointed when I left Odesza to see Jack White (I’m from Detroit and he’s a local hero) and I easily strolled to the front of the stage, the crowd was so vast, it made my heart hurt.
However, rock & roll acts that played the side Lake Shore Stage like Greta Van Fleet and Manchester Orchestra, had a full and active patronage. Manchester Orchestra put on another remarkable, gut-wrenching performance. Unbelievably good, a spiritual experience.
I believe that Lollapalooza is having a difficult time predicting what acts can fill their two main stages: Bud Light and Grant Park. I felt like all the main stage sets’ crowds were low in attendance. Meanwhile, Perry’s, AKA “rave” stage, was jam-packed and a dustbowl the entire weekend. Chris Lake and Rezz should be crowned King and Queen of Perry’s for their performances this year. It’s the only stage at Lolla where you need to bring a bandana to protect your mouth and face from debris. Jerseys everywhere. Everytime a group of jersey-wearing bros got within 10 feet of me, I knew I needed to back up, because roughhousing was sure to ensue.
It takes about 30 minutes to get from one end of Grant Park to the other. Therefore, you must plan what sets you want to see in advance. The fountain, which is located in the center of the festival, is surrounded by vendors, food, beer garden, and bathrooms. The lines for food and beverages were short (longest wait being for an ice cream cone, 7 minutes on a 90 degree day). The bathrooms were clean, they even had porta potties that flushed! Transportation out of the festival to the aftershows was simple, you just hop on the EL (Chicago CTA).
Lollapalooza runs from 11 AM to 10 PM, which can be a grueling day, but checking out Chicago after-dark is definitely worth downing a few vodka Redbulls or espressos. The cool thing about being at a metro festival is that you don’t necessarily have to attend the official “after-show” to have a good time. Thursday night, instead of hitting an after-show, my friends and I hopped the 4 AM bar scene, we hit Beercade, an arcade bar, and Old Town Ale House, a dive-bar staple. Friday, when everyone else and their mom attended the Malaa Official Lolla After-show, we heading to Smart Bar to see Chicago House DJ legend, Mark Farina. Farina’s set boasted red lighting and fashion-conscious local patrons, it was sensual and deep, beyond sexy. Saturday, we bar hopped and ended up at Smart Bar, again. Finally, on Sunday I attended Chris Lake at Sound Bar, an Official Lolla After-show. Due to Sound Bar’s strict security, I was the only one in my group that could attend (no vape pens allowed, kids). Chris Lake kept the crowd dancing till close. He even handed out boxes of pizza over the DJ booth when he dropped “Anti Up”. I still have “When does the club shut? All I want is pizza,” stuck in my head.